Sex and the Law Quiz- Answers
1 B, C, and D are correct
2 Both are true but:
Under the sexual offences act 1956 it is an absolute offence for a man to
have sexual intercourse with a girl under 13. If the girl is between the ages
of 13 – 16 , the man may be able to claim in his defence (and be found not
He believed himself to be validly married to the girl and had
reasonable cause for that belief. This situation could arise where a
marriage had been contracted in a country with a lower legal age of
He believed the girl to be 16 or over and had reasonable cause for
that belief. This applies only if he is under 24 and has not been
previously charged with a similar offence.
At present this law applies to any man aged 10 or over. Any man or boy
aged 10 or over is likely therefore to be breaking the law. In practice,
prosecutions are rare if there is no evidence of exploitation.
Professional and positions of trust
Under the sexual offences (Amendment) act 2000 it is an offence for a
person over 18 who is in a position of trust in relation to someone under 18
to have sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or engage in any other sexual
activity with them. Factors for defence are: he did not know and could not
be reasonably expected to know the age or that he was in a position of trust
re and he was legally married to that person or if the offence occurred
before the commencement of the act.
The education act 1996 which consolidated all previous legislation states
that all schools must provide an up to date policy, which describes the
content and organisation of SRE provided outside of the National
Curriculum Science Order. It is the school governors’ responsibility to
ensure that the policy is developed and made available to parents for
Primary schools should have a policy statement that describes the SRE
provided, or give a statement of the decision not to provide SRE other than
that provided within the National Curriculum Science Order.
4 None of the answers are correct – see notes from question 5
A doctor who prescribes medical contraception to a person under 16 is not
legally bound to tell anyone.
A doctor who agrees to an abortion to a person under 16 is not legally
bound to tell anyone
Doctors and other health professionals may provide contraceptive advice
and treatment to under 16’s under the following conditions , sometimes
referred to as the Fraser Guidelines
- That the young person understands the advice and has sufficient
maturity to understand what is involved.
- That the doctor could not persuade the young person to inform their
parents, nor to allow the doctor to inform them
- That the young person would be very likely to begin or continue
having sexual intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment
- That, without contraceptive advice or treatment , the young persons
physical or mental health would suffer
- That it would be in the young persons best interest to give such
advice or tratment without parental consent.
Under 16s have a right to confidentiality whether asking for contraceptive
advice or any other medical treatment.
A young woman under 16 may consent to an abortion without parental
knowledge if both doctors believe she sufficient maturity and
understanding to appreciate what is involved. In practice however, most
doctors require the consent of a parent or other responsible adult before the
procedure is performed.
Health professionals are obliged to involve social services if they believe
that a young person under 18 is at significant risk of harm. This would be
only be done with the young persons permission.
Non-medical professionals can do all of these as detailed in guidance from
the Teenage Pregnancy Unit. A youth worker should not prescribe a
specific course of action ‘you should take the pill’. Workers should follow
a policy of giving general information and referring those under 16 to
where they might get help. If a field/ social worker or foster carer believes
that the person is worried about visiting a service and is at risk of
pregnancy, they may accompany them to a clinic.
As with teachers a policy will support and clarify professional conduct and
The dept of the environment has advised that section 28 of the local
government act does not apply to school, as section 18 of the education act
1986 gives school governors responsibility for decisions on sex education
The act refers to local authorities in England and Wales and says that a
local authority shall not-:
-Intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention
of promoting homosexuality
-Promote the teaching in any maintained schools of the acceptability of
homosexuality as a pretended family.
Many professionals are confused by this law and think that it means they
cannot talk about sexuality to young people. (see answer to question 12 re
The children’s act 1989)
Many professionals are confused by this law and think that it means that
they cannot talk about sexuality to young people. (No one has ever been
prosecuted under the section 28 of the local government act and many
organisations are campaigning for its repeal.
8 B and D
The abortion act 1967 as amended by the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Act applies to women whatever their age. An abortion is
legally available up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but a woman will need the
agreement of two doctors (usually her GP or family planning doctor and the
doctor who performs the abortion). The doctors must agree that the
continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the
pregnancy was terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the
pregnant woman or any existing children of her family.
She does not need the permission of the baby father and does not even have
to tell him she is pregnant.
Abortion is legally available after 24 week only when a woman life is in
grave danger or there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would
suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously
9 16 for both men and women
The age of consent for sex between men is 16. This was reduced from 18
under Sexual Offences Amendment Act 2000
There is no special law concerning sexual acts between women. Lesbian
sex is therefore legal provided that the women concerned consent and are
aged 16 or over. Because a woman under 25 cannot consent to a sexual act
the only offence that is relevant to lesbian relationships is indecent assault.
The guidance and regulations to the act states that the experience of being
cared for should also include the sex education of the young persons and
sex education will need to cover practical issues such as contraception.
In the section of the Children’s Act ‘Enabling young people to build and
maintain relationships with others:’ sexual relationships it states the need
and concerns of gay young men and women must also be recognised and
approached sympathetically. In the section Enabling young people to
develop their self esteem it states ‘Gay young men and women may require
very sympathetic carers to enable them to accept their sexuality and to
develop their self esteem.
12 True- see question 2
A person commits an offence if for the purpose of sexual gratification he
intentionally causes another person (under 16) to watch a third person
engaging in an activity/ or look at images engaging in an activity.
Anyone paying for sexual activity (or having any other financial
arrangement) so that you can be sexually active with someone between 13 -
16 incurs a sentence of 14 years imprisonment
If the child were under 13- the incurred sentence would be life
The definition of family by law includes all stated in the question
Confidentiality is not an absolute! The duty of confidentiality is overridden
by public policy where a child is at risk of serious harm. Clinicians should
recognise when it is appropriate to step outside of patient confidentiality
and take further action.
Children under 16 have the same rights as adults in this case. Information
can only be shared with pupils consent. (Unless it has been agreed in
school policy to do so)
The legal obligation is with the establishment ie school, so the individual
would not necessarily be committing a criminal offence but could be in
breach of their statutory responsibility to the school/establishment and
therefore face disciplinary proceedings. Individuals must follow their